The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and animal welfare campaigners have joined in welcoming Government proposals to end the use of wild animals in all UK travelling circuses.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and animal welfare campaigners have joined together in welcoming Government proposals to ban the use of wild animals in all UK travelling circuses.
The draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was introduced in Parliament today (April 16, 2013), which details proposals that all travelling circuses in England must stop using wild animal acts by December 1, 2015.
Introducing the bill, environment minister Lord de Mauley said: “This is a big step towards making it illegal to use wild animals in circus performances. Until the ban comes into force, travelling circuses owners must meet strict licensing conditions to ensure high welfare conditions for wild animals.”
The number of circuses using wild animals in England has reduced since the licensing scheme was introduced in January 2013. One removed all wild animals from its performances, while two now operate with a licence, housing a total of 20 wild animals between them.
Responding to the news, a group of campaigners – including the BVA, the Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) – welcomed the draft legislation.
A spokesperson, speaking on behalf of all four organisations, said: “We are pleased to see that the Government appear to have come good on their promise to ban the outdated practice of using wild animals in circuses… We are looking forward to seeing the ban fully implemented at the earliest opportunity.”
Speaking independently, BVA president Peter Jones said the veterinary association was “absolutely delighted” at the publication of the draft bill, adding: “There is no place in today’s society for wild animals to be used for our entertainment.”
Mr Jones said the BVA would study the bill in detail before consulting its members to help develop “appropriate and robust legislation”.
However, RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “Two years is still a long time for the animals forced to endure the constant travel, cramped temporary cages, and noisy conditions of a circus.
“The licensing scheme that is running in the meantime for the meantime is not good enough to safeguard the welfare of these majestic animals. But at least it is the beginning of the end now.”